I don’t get the Valheim craze and I wasn’t wowed by Outriders either. There, I said it.
Everyone’s talking about how great Valheim is, so I thought I’d share my experience with it: I bought it, installed it, played for about 45 minutes, then returned it.
It turns out I’ve played that game before, back when it was called many different names, including but not limited to ARK, The Forest, 7 Days To Die, Landmark, Conan Exiles, Dark and Light, Fragmented, Grav, The Long Dark, Novus Inceptio, Out of Reach, Savage Lands, TUG, etc. Oh, and Vortex: The Gateway.
Don’t get me wrong, Valheim isn’t bad. It just didn’t leap out at me as a quantum leap forward in the genre, so I’m happy to wait for the full release (which will probably be exactly the same as the early access, because rarely do games ever fundamentally change over the course of their “beta” period anymore). I’m glad everyone else is catching on to the build and survive game craze and having fun with it and noticing it’s a lot like early MMORPGs. Finally. What took you so long? Hehe.
I’m a bit baffled why Valheim specifically has taken off, though. My interest in the game is more about why it’s taken off than the game itself. I haven’t seen any reporting on why it’s different from other survival games… all I see are stories that confirm that yes, it’s exactly like every other survival game, where you gather materials and build things to advance and the emergent stories that come out of that process are the most fun part.
There’s almost a religious fervor about it, like people believe they’re making some sort of political statement when they report how much they love playing Valheim on Twitter. Like they’re “sticking it to the man” somehow. I don’t know. It’s weird. I feel like there’s a piece of this puzzle that’s eluding me. Maybe it’s because it’s a small team and there’s a “cheering for the underdog” component? (But every survival game started with a small team. That’s why there’s so many of them. Because they’re relatively cheap to make.) Anyway, I don’t get it.
Outriders made a brief splash, then seemed to vanish into the void again. It’s Square Enix’s clone of Destiny, because every major AAA studio needs to have one, apparently.
I played the demo for about an hour, and haven’t found any interest in logging back in again. The story was a nonsensical mashup of genres, the gameplay was unoriginal. Once again, it’s a AAA title that’s the same game I’ve played before. If I want to play that kind of game, I’ve got plenty of The Division 2 left to get through, I don’t need to buy a reskinned version just yet.
Those are all the new games I’ve looked at recently. Otherwise, my go-to game right now is Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire. The turn-based combat is so much better than the realtime combat of the first game. I can usually only play one game at a time, especially now when I’m juggling and rearranging my daily schedule so much, and neither Valheim or Outriders were good enough to become that one game.